I’d like to discuss something I have been asked to talk about a lot in my career, and that is – what strategies can be put in place in order to recover faster after a Gastric Sleeve. In this article I will pinpoint the 5 key strategies on how you can expedite your recovery while you are in hospital. And the title is: Five ways to recover faster after Gastric Sleeve Surgery.
Most patients should expect to stay two, three or even up to four days in hospital all going well. Understand that this can be a very overwhelming phase in people’s lives because of things like recovering from anaesthesia and dealing with issues around pain.
There are five strategies that I have come to practice and even preach, that I have found to be particularly beneficial in helping recover faster and also connect with what your body is telling you.
So the five strategies are as follows:
The first strategy is – prepare yourself mentally.
You would have heard many people say, including Tony Robbins, that any work you do, 80% is your psychology and 2% is the work that you put into it. So prepare yourself mentally prior to actually going through the surgery.
What I say is that you should calm yourself, anticipate what you are visualising, and what you are expecting out of this. If there is pain, that is fine, there are mechanisms to manage that, and we’ll cover that in a moment, but the point is, to prepare yourself mentally, that is the key thing.
The second aspect – is get adequate pain relief.
Most of the patients after Gastric Sleeve surgery would be given what we call a PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia) which is like a button which when pressed automatically injects a pain killer medication into your system and you cannot overdose yourself. Even if you were repeatedly pressing the button, there is a rider that is a governed by an anaesthetist who decides what is a safe dose for you to be given.
Having access to good pain relief, allows you to basically do two key things:
It helps your lung function to improve, which is a key to pain relief and is crucial. More importantly, it allows you to do the other steps that I’ll be talking about shortly, such as ambulating and walking etc. We have some very good, very safe drugs now that are available which have a very safe side effect profile. Pain relief is much better than what it used to be even two or three decades ago.
The third strategy is that of Walking.
Walking is amazing and should start at least 24 hours after surgery. Our physiotherapists will explain to you what the purpose and advantages to gently walking.
Walking reduces your risk of developing DVT (Deep vein Thrombosis) which are clots in the leg that can travel up to your lungs and create issues. Walking further improves your lung function, and very importantly it reduces that bloaty sensation people get in the tummy after gastric sleeve surgery.
So those are the advantages of walking and the sooner you start walking – the better it is for you in terms of recovery.
The fourth strategy is that of taking more fluids.
Understanding that gastric sleeve surgery removes 60-70% of your stomach so your new tummy is like a baby’s tummy in terms of size. You’ve got to take small, frequent amounts of fluid intakes here, because initially for the first two weeks you are going to be what you call as a bariatric free fluid diet. Your intake will be things like tea, coffee, soups and optifast shakes. And that’s one strategy which can really be a helpful tool for you to remember and that is the use of your smartphone. You can use your smartphone to use the timer. Put a timer in your phone for every hour on the hour from sunrise to sunset so every hour the timer rings it will be a reminder for you to have some fluids and go for a walk, come back and rest on the chair.
I ask people to not go to bed, during the time between sunrise to sunset. By not going to bed you are more likely to keep active. When the timer goes off you will be ready to go!
If you are able to take a liter a day in small frequent sips, all through the day, you will surprise yourself with the speed with which you will recover.
The final strategy that will help you recover faster from your gastric sleeve surgery – is to manage your stress.
As I acknowledged early on, some feel anxiety around surgery. They worry about risks and complications from surgery and this can cause a lot of anxiety to build up. Built up anxiety affects your ability to get adequate pain relief. Another tool to manage your stress is deep breathing exercises. While you are sitting in your chair, just close your eyes and focus on your breath or perhaps listen to some calming music. Another tool is reading. Reading some light topics that are not too heavy and more calming in nature would be a great way to actively manage your stress.
One other way which I have personally found to be very effective is listening to a guided meditation. Guided meditation helps you get aware of your body, what your body is experiencing, including sensations. It allows you to calm yourself and be in the moment which is a great way of managing your stress.
And if you are looking for a guided meditation jump onto our website and in the support section you will find a free guided meditation to pre-procedure. I have attached the link below as well. This meditation is sent out as a link to all our patients and was created specifically for patients about to undergo surgery who may be feeling stressed and anxious as their surgery day gets closer.
I hope you’ve found this article to be of some use. If you found it useful please share it with anyone whom you think might benefit.
Good luck with your surgery and try to implement these five strategies. I can tell you you will be pleasantly surprised.
Good luck, and take care.
Dr. Arun Dhir.